Story by Kathleen Clawson

The UNM Department of Theatre and Dance announces the Words Afire New Play Festival Directed Readings, a first look at plays in development for the next Words Afire Festival in May 2011. Plays included in the series are "The Ruin" by Georgina Escobar, "Where Things Make Sense" by Nic Wehrwein, "La Fea's FlamenChoreoMyth" by Riti Sachdeva and "The Story of Caballos Muertos" by Law Chavez. Free readings are Friday, Nov. 5-Sunday, Nov. 7, at the Experimental Theatre, Center for the Arts.

The Words Afire Festival is the centerpiece of UNM's award-winning dramatic writing program. Master of Fine Arts playwrights collaborate with directors and actors to give life to their new works and bring these works from the page to the stage each spring. The Words Afire New Play Festival Directed Readings is an important part of a professional approach to the development process in playwriting, led by playwright Elaine Avila, Robert Hartung Endowed Chair of Dramatic Writing at UNM. For the first time this fall, she invited guest adjudicator Megan Monaghan to attend the readings and provide professional feedback to each playwright after performances.

Escobar's "The Ruin," directed by Kevin Elder, captures two women, known as the jungle witches of Cantemploya, who live secluded from the world and the young archeologist who discovers them and through them discovers himself. The reading is on Friday, Nov. 5, at 6 p.m.

In Wehrwein's "Where Things Make Sense," directed by Summer Olsson, Matt heads back to the old neighborhood to regroup after his life falls apart, but his plan is complicated by Elizabeth, the new neighbor, and the return of his ex, Emily. The reading is on Saturday, Nov. 6, at 3 p.m.

The working title of Sachdeva's new play is "La Fea's FlamenChoreoMyth," directed by Erin Phillips. La Fea's dream leads her on a mystical mission of unearthing song, dance and secrets only to find herself confronting an ancient gift and calling. The reading is on Saturday, Nov. 6, at 6 p.m.

Chavez's "The Story of Caballos Muertos," directed by Dodie Montgomery, is about two sisters unable to love each other because of unfounded jealousy and a fixation on the same man. It is a supernatural tale of untamed sibling rivalry and the dangers that accompany obsession. The reading is on Sunday, Nov. 7, at noon.

Guest adjudicator Monaghan is a freelance dramaturge, director and teacher. She served as artistic program director of the Lark Play Development Center, literary manager of South Coast Repertory Theatre, literary director of the Alliance Theatre, director of playwright services at The Playwrights' Center, and director of new play development at Frontera @ Hyde Park Theatre. She has been a guest teacher at NYU, Iowa Writers' Workshop, Yale School of Drama and others. She received the Elliott Hayes Award in dramaturgy.

Visit Words Afire or call (505) 277-4332.